Festival organisers across the county are being encouraged to apply for a new fund being provided by the council for festivals and events.
Community groups and festival planners are to receive a welcome boost in 2015, as Westmeath County Council has set aside €113,000 specifically to help fund local festivals.
The money will be assigned on the basis of merit, but organisers are advised to get their applications in as early as possible as they may not be considered later in the year if the fund has already been allocated.
Guidelines and application forms are available now on the council’s website, www.westmeathcoco.ie
The council’s director of services Barry Kehoe says all applications will be considered.
“This €113,000 is now open to applications from interested groups who are organising an event in 2015. We will consider all applications, and adjudicate based on merit, on the number of people who will benefit, and the number of people the event expects to attract to the county - if a festival is designed to attract people from other parts of the country, or other countries.
“We are particularly interested in supporting new ideas or more marginal events - if a festival has been running for years and is self-sustaining and self-financing, they might have less need of support. We would prefer to support events that might not happen without funding.”
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke welcomed the decision, saying it gave organisers a clear channel to apply for assistance.
“There were so many requests coming to the council through representations and letters but this gives more clarity. It is important that the council looks at all festival ideas, such as the literary festival and the fringe events around the drama festival. I would love to see a food festival, and the idea of a John McCormack festival is also being considered.”
Owner of Thai Kin Khao restaurant Adam Lyons is part of a group working towards establishing a food festival in Athlone.
“I feel there is a real impetus to push this forward, and it is great that there is funding there. We are trying to see if we can combine a food festival with another event, or have it as a standalone. We hope to have something in place for 2015.”
The council is also providing a one-off sum of €40,000 to help local groups invest in LED Christmas lights.
Cllr John Dolan welcomed the decision, saying “This should be a significant saving in the future on both running costs and bulb replacement cost on local communities in Westmeath.”